New York Guardsmen Build STEM Learning Center During Training Mission

HALEIWA, Hawaii – While most New York Army National Guard Soldiers spent their 2019 annual training at Fort Drum, Fort Indiantown Gap, or Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst, 45 Soldiers from the 204th Engineer Battalion did their training in Hawaii.

Soldiers from 1156th Engineer Company were selected to participate in an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) rotation at Girl Scout Camp Paumalu in Haleiwa, Hawaii, this summer. IRT is a joint service program that began in 1993, providing real-world training opportunities for service members to prepare them for wartime missions while supporting the needs of America’s underserved communities.

Communities typically provide materials and basic services, while military units contribute personnel and resources. IRT is designed to produce mission-ready forces, civil-military partnerships, and stronger communities.

“The Hawaii Girl Scout Camp IRT is an outstanding program for New York Army National Guard engineers which will benefit the local community while fostering an environment for our Soldiers to grow, develop, and prepare for future missions,” says Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Wing Yu, commander of the 204th Engineer Battalion.

Along with service members from other U.S. military components, New York’s engineers have been working at the camp to help build a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning center for the Girl Scouts.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Oliverio Hernandez explains that this was not a volunteer mission. Service members were selected by their chain of command because of their standings in the unit and their military job training.

“We were hand-selected for this rotation because they needed our specific skill sets,” he says.

The 23-year veteran with the Army National Guard has been through myriad training missions and environments across the U.S., but this was the first of its kind for him.

“This IRT is actually a large-scale project that we’re building from the bottom up,” CW2 Hernandez says. “This is more than just equipment familiarization; this is practical application in a real-world environment with a real-world impact.”

The IRT mission took Soldiers out of their normal home stations and forced them to adapt to a new, different, and challenging environment.

Another unique benefit of IRT is that it’s geared toward developing junior and future leaders.

PFC Jesse Velez, a plumber assigned to the 1156th Engineer Company, 204th Engineer Battalion, New York Army National Guard, measures a board before cutting it during an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission at Camp Paumalu, Haleiwa, Hawaii, July 31, 2019. (Photo by SSG Michael Davis).

Lower enlisted service members are not only doing the hands-on training that wouldn’t normally occur in a drill weekend or annual training, they are also given the opportunity to teach and learn from their peers.

Most Soldiers on the roster have the rank of Private First Class (PFC) or Specialist (SPC), which is just below Sergeant (SGT), and will soon become non-commissioned officers (NCOs) with management responsibilities. This mission affords Soldiers the time and opportunity to practice training others, as well as learning the patience it takes to be an effective leader.

“Learning and instructing that happens at the lower levels builds a greater sense of team and unit cohesion, which all adds to the readiness for the force,” CW2 Hernandez says. “They’re getting to manage, teach, and learn during a real mission.”

Two of these future leaders who are an integral part of the mission are PFC Anthony Allen and PFC Jesse Velez. Both are members of the 1156th Engineer Company, and each has a civilian trade that enhances his military job and this mission.

PFC Allen has been in the New York Amy National Guard for two years. He’s a 12W Carpentry and Masonry Specialist for his unit, who was also assigned as the chainsaw trainer and team leader for the IRT mission because of his civilian experience.

He wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived on the worksite, but he knew it wouldn’t be anything like what he was used to back home.

“We’ve had challenges, but our biggest one so far is definitely the weather,” he says.

Even though he’s only been with the Guard a short time, PFC Allen has the mindset and determination of a seasoned veteran.

“It doesn’t matter what we come across, we’re going to work through it.”

PFC Velez is a 12K Plumber on his very first mission with the Guard.

“This is the perfect place to test what the Army just trained me to do in Basic and Advanced Individual Training,” he says.

While being grateful for the opportunities the National Guard has already afforded him, he’s looking to contribute his skills to the mission and continue learning as much as he can.

“This is the true definition of one-fight, one-team. We’re building community relationships together – showing them they can count on us!”

Once the IRT portion is complete, the Girl Scouts will have only a fraction of the building to be completed before they can begin to teach girls and boys from across all the islands.

Shari Chang, Girl Scouts of Hawaii CEO and a fourth-generation Girl Scout, says she applied for the IRT program knowing she could partner with a skilled labor force that would have the capabilities and expertise to make the project happen.

The estimated completion date is September 2020.

“We are so thankful for the support from the military on this project,” says Chang. “The whole process is now coming to fruition, and it has been an amazing opportunity for both of us.”

Army National Guard Soldiers are dedicated to serving their communities, and an IRT is just one of the many opportunities to do so. If you’re passionate about making an impact, consider joining the Guard. Explore more than 130 exciting careers in fields like logistics, technology, and transportation on our job board, and contact a recruiter to learn how you can serve today!

From an original article by SSG Michael Davis, New York National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in August 2019.

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Massachusetts Army National Guard – PV2 Daniel Kane, RANGER

#MyGuardStory – PV2 Daniel Kane, RANGER

"I would recommend Ranger school for anybody… you'll learn something about yourself and push yourself physically and mentally."Daniel Kane is one of the newest Infantry Soldiers in the Massachusetts National Guard — The Nation's First. In this week's #MyGuardStory, Private Kane tells us about his experiences training to become a Ranger, the U.S. Army's premier experts in marksmanship, physical training, medical training, small-unit tactics, and mobility.SOLDIERSDo you have a story to tell? Download our mobile app to submit your own photos/videos! www.MANationalGuard.net

Posted by MA Army National Guard – Recruiting and Retention on Monday, March 4, 2019

Private Second Class (PV2) Daniel Kane sits down and shares his experience attending Ranger school. Being one of the newest Infantry Soldiers in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, PV2 Kane trained to become an expert in marksmanship, physical training, medical training, small-unit tactics, and mobility.

To learn more about how you can serve in the Army National Guard, visit the job board and browse over 130 exciting career opportunities!

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Guard Soldier Finds Best of Both Worlds in Music and the Military

As a kid, Sergeant (SGT) Nicholas Rossetti loved music. He always listened to it with his family, and once his sister picked up an instrument, he knew he wanted to play one too.

In third grade, he received his first drum set and learned to play by listening to music, drumming along whether it sounded good or not, and taking lessons. By the end of elementary school, he had a good grasp of the fundamentals and continued playing in bands throughout middle and high school as a percussionist.

SGT Rossetti plays drums at a concert with the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

Not only was he passionate about music, but he had always wanted to be in the military. In high school he wanted to do Junior ROTC, but his music career took center stage. It wasn’t until one day during his junior year that the two worlds collided, when an active duty Navy rock band played a concert at his school.

“I was blown away,” he recalls.

This was the moment he realized that he could combine his love of music with his love of the military, but as he reached his senior year, he started thinking about college and careers. He didn’t believe it was possible to make a living off of being a musician, and after graduating, life took him in a different direction.

His band director said to him, “You’re making a mistake, you’re really going to miss playing music.”

SGT Rossetti ignored the advice, and after a year of business school, he realized he missed being in a band.

One day as he was walking to class, he saw an Army National Guard recruiter tent on campus, with a sign that read: “Play Music in the Military with the National Guard!”

Once he learned that he could be in a band again, serve part-time in the military, continue his education, and stay home with his family, he enlisted.

“It was just the best of every single aspect I wanted,” he recalls.

As he became acclimated to his new lifestyle, he fell in love with Army culture.

“I joined to play music, and now I love more about the Army than just music,” he boasts. “It’s opened up a whole new slew of opportunities, experiences, and passions that I love.”

In 2018, SGT Rossetti competed in the Best Warrior Competition and won at the State level. He attended regionals in New York, and while he didn’t take the title, he got the opportunity to attend Air Assault school, a physically demanding 10-day training course with a reputation for being one of the tougher military programs to complete.

SGT Rossetti poses for the camera during a ruck march in the 2018 State-level Best Warrior competition.

He felt like the underdog of his class, training alongside a handful of rough and tough infantrymen, with one goal in mind – to prove that a bandsman was just as capable as any other Soldier.

“That’s all I’ve wanted to do since getting here, is just crush that typical band reputation. We’re just as capable, just as strong, and just as smart as everyone else.”

To his surprise, he received his wings as an honor grad at the top of his class.

Back home, SGT Rossetti gets to live out his dream as a 42R Army Bandperson in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire. Throughout the year, the band tours the State and plays a variety of events including holiday concerts, a summer concert series, and school concerts, to name a few. This past 4th of July, the 39th played a concert for the public in Dover, N.H., before a ceremonial fireworks display.

SGT Nicholas Rossetti is a percussionist in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

For the rest of the summer, the band will continue playing shows at parks, town halls, and other local venues.

SGT Rossetti’s been given endless experiences and opportunities in the Guard and wouldn’t trade them for anything. He’s traveled abroad to the Bahamas and El Salvador, he’s made lifelong friends, and he gets to make an impact on others. He has an immense amount of pride in what he does.

“There’s nothing more fulfilling than putting that uniform on, being in the National Guard, and knowing you have a whole entire family of Guardsmen by your side.”

Camaraderie was always something SGT Rossetti cherished when he played music as a teenager, but once he joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard, he found an everlasting family of Soldiers who would do anything for each other.

“It’s really just the best of both worlds. If you enjoy camaraderie of bands, playing with incredible musicians, playing gigs – it’s a no brainer joining the Army National Guard.”

If you’re looking for a way to pursue your passions, explore all that the Army National Guard has to offer. Whether you’re into aviation, engineering, or cyber, to name a few, there’s something for everyone. Not only will you be able to live out your dreams, but you’ll get access to benefits like tuition assistance, insurance benefits, and more. Browse current openings on the job board today, and contact a recruiter for more information on how you can serve.

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